Morning Report: Why Stakeholders Think It's Fifth Times the Charm for Hotel Tax - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Why Stakeholders Think It's Fifth Times the Charm for Hotel Tax

The San Diego Convention Center / Photo courtesy of the San Diego Convention Center Corp.

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City leaders have tried, and failed, to increase the hotel room tax many times since 2004 — sometimes via a ballot measure, sometimes not. The proposed tax was occasionally tied to an expansion of the city’s Convention Center — sometimes along the bayfront, sometimes not.

Now, it will again be on the March 2020 ballot. 

The March ballot measure to raise hotel taxes will likely require a two-thirds majority to pass. (Supporters had hoped for a lower threshold, but that now seems highly unlikely.) The most support any recent hotel tax measure has garnered was 62 percent in 2004. 

But, as Lisa Halverstadt reports in a reflection on all the swings and misses over the years, the new 2020 measure has a broad range of support from Democrats, hoteliers and labor groups. Supporters hope the united front can give the measure the momentum it needs to gain 66.7 percent of the vote in March. 

Previous measures to increase the hotel tax – as well as separate attempts to expand the convention center – were marked by division among the city’s power brokers and industry groups.   

Supporters say the Convention Center expansion is badly needed to keep high-profile events like Comic-Con.

The March hotel tax measure would also go toward funding homeless services and road repairs. 

Hunter Expected to Resign

For three years, Rep. Duncan Hunter has attacked the Union-Tribune reporters who first shined a light on his potential crimes. He admitted guilt Tuesday to a single count of conspiracy to convert campaign funds to personal use.

He now faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced March 17, but he’s likely to receive much less time behind bars, the U-T reports. His wife also pleaded guilty earlier this year and is supposed to be sentenced in April. 

  • Speaking outside the courthouse, federal prosecutors said Hunter was not required to resign his seat as part of the plea deal, but they expected him to do so. 
  • Duncan Hunter Sr., a former member of Congress, told 10News that his son was scheduled to meet with House GOP leaders next week to discuss it. 
  • If Hunter resigns before Friday, it could trigger a special election on top of the ongoing regular election. So part of the delay may be to wait until after Friday, the last day of the nomination period.
  • The Los Angeles Times reports that with Hunter out of the picture, the GOP would likely to hold onto the 50th Congressional District in November. 
  • NBC San Diego put together a timeline of events. It includes many of the excuses Hunter and his associates used over the years to try to deflect attention and portray the criminal case as a “witch hunt.” 
  • Following Hunter’s plea, VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga compiled a list of San Diego’s 13 most disreputable politicians. The list – which is really quite something – also includes Hunter’s father, plus Richard Nixon and “Duke” Cunningham, who the U-T once called the “most corrupt congressman in American history.”  

Barrio Logan Art Gallery La Bodega Gets Priced Out of Neighborhood

La Bodega, a much-lauded gallery credited with helping bolster the arts in Barrio Logan, announced on Instagram Tuesday morning it will close. The gallery’s owners said they would not be able to afford rent increases set to take effect next month.  

La Bodega’s landlord is former National City mayor Nick Inzunza. He told the Union-Tribune that the increase is due to required building improvements “out of my control.”

But in 2017, Inzunza told VOSD he would never let La Bodega close. “It isn’t going to close. That just isn’t going to happen. I won’t let it happen,” he said. 

La Bodega temporarily closed in 2016, because of code violations. That closure followed the Ghost Ship Warehouse Fire, when several cities moved to increase enforcement of code violations in warehouse art spaces. 

Inzunza previously said that he intentionally set about turning the building into an art space. He recruited Chris Zertuche, a local artist, to transform the space. 

“He has the most favorable lease in all of Barrio Logan,” Inzunza said. “He has a lease that reflects what I want to see in the building – what I could not accomplish, but Chris could.”

In 2005, the U-T published a story about many tenants who complained of substandard living conditions in buildings owned by Inzunza. One tenant referred to Inzunza and his wife as “slumlords.”

McNamara Un-Endorses Diaz

Escondido Mayor Paul Mcnamara / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

It’s not often that politicians change their endorsements, but that’s what Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara did Tuesday. He dropped his support for Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz, who’s running for supervisor, and instead went with her Democratic rival, Terra Lawson-Remer.

Awkward, right?

The timing of all this is interesting. For months, McNamara’s support for Diaz seemed tepid, and late last week she offered moderately critical words for McNamara in our profile of him

“I think we’re out of sync and it’s probably a result of different leadership styles,” Diaz told us Tuesday. “I respect the fact that he’s the mayor of Escondido and it’s OK to disagree with my colleagues. I recognize that some people struggle with disagreement.” 

We couldn’t reach McNamara, so we’re not totally sure why he changed his mind. In a statement, he said he’d thought a lot about it and he now believes Lawson-Remer “has the intellect and practical problem solving skills needed.” 

In Other News

Correction

Tuesday’s story about racial disparities in marijuana enforcement included an incorrect projection of next year’s estimated city budget deficit. It is $83.7 million.

The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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